Rebellion Racing team manager Bart Hayden believes it will be “quite a tall order” for LMP1 non-hybrid cars to fight for the overall win against Toyota, in the ACO’s revised regulations that will combine LMP1-H and LMP1-L into a single class for next year.
The reshuffle for the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes a shift to a winter calendar with the “Super Season” as a transition, will see the performance levels of non-hybrids increased via an Equivalence of Technology.
With power and fuel boosts expected, Hayden, who ran the Rebellion R-Ones LMP1 non-hybrids from 2014-16, believes it still won’t be enough unless the Toyotas are slowed.
“If they think that Toyota Hybrid can stay where it is and the privateers can step up to reach that, I think that’s quite a tall order,” Hayden told Sportscar365.
“The only way they’re going to get the performance similar is to bring the hybrid down a little bit, which Toyota I’m sure won’t want to happen.
“When they do get the equivalence in whatever way you like, the hybrid is going to have an edge, and you accept that, longer stints or whatever.”
Hayden said the likely efficiency advantage from the hybrids is just one of the questions currently being asked in the championship’s significant overhaul.
It could become a moot point, however, should the Japanese manufacturer elect not to continue beyond this year, with a decision on its future set to be made by next month.
“I wonder what Toyota will do?” Hayden asked. “You can read that Toyota won’t be allowed to do it unless they do the whole [Super Season].
“If it turns out they say they do the whole thing, what’s to stop them from pulling out after 2018? They can’t be forced to do it.”
The eight-round Super Season, which kicks off at Spa and May and concludes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2019, could also see a team like Rebellion have to adapt its program.
Hayden admitted it could force teams to look at competing in additional series to help fill the lengthy gaps in the calendar.
“In reality, in the calendar year of 2018, it’s only four races,” he said. “If you’ve got a LMP2 car, you can perhaps bolster your racing in that year by going into the ELMS races or American races.
“But if you look at LMP1, there’s nowhere else to play.
“How do you staff an organization for four races? That’s difficult. There are some challenges with it, as well as opportunities.
“There may be some interesting projects and stuff to come out of it, whether you look at it that there is such a big gap between Le Mans and Fuji, you could maybe do the first two races with a P2 car and have something running in parallel that you bring in from Fuji onwards.
“It’s all ideas at the moment.”
Hayden said it’s too early to speculate if the revised regulations will see the Anglo-Swiss squad return to LMP1 and indicated they’d have a better picture in the coming weeks.
Its switch to LMP2 was originally established as a two-year program, which has included selected starts in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which wouldn’t be possible with LMP1 machinery.
“We’re still formulating ideas and taking it all in,” Hayden said. “But on a broad brush, the concept is probably positive but the implementation of it, how will that work?”